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How to Paint Over a Dark Color?

It’s totally natural to want to put your own personality and character into your new home, and there’s pretty much no easier way to make a dramatic difference than by giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. Thing is, the situation gets a bit more complicated when you decide that you want to paint over a dark color with a lighter one!

If you’ve ever had trouble producing a good result when painting a light color over dark-colored walls, the only problem that may have occurred is that you didn’t take the right steps. Here’s how to make sure your next light-over-dark painting project turns out exactly how you want it!

Clean your walls

When wondering how to paint over dark colors, you need to realize it all starts with preparation. First, you’ll want to clean the walls, the cleaner they are, the smoother the paint job. You’ll want your walls to be as clean as possible. Clean them thoroughly, and then scrape away any paint that’s peeling or any other spots on the wall that aren’t smooth.

Next, you’ll need to sand the surface of anything you are going to paint. You don’t have to sand until it’s smooth, but give everything a good sanding. Roughing up the surface gives the new paint something to adhere well to. No matter how many coats of paint you slather on, you will have problems with paint bubbling if you don’t do this scuffing beforehand.


Now it’s time to prime! When painting over dark walls with light paint colors, use a white primer. Using a primer will help to ensure that your chosen color comes out true when dry, with no dark base color muting a light one or a light base color making it impossible to get bold color coverage. Using a primer also lessens the need for additional coats of paint to get complete coverage.

In many cases, you will find that using just one coat of primer will do the trick, but that’s not the case when you’re going from dark to light. Expect that you’ll need at least two coats of primer, and don’t forget to let each coat dry fully before moving on. Don’t worry if you can see a bit of muted color bleeding through, since primers aren’t meant to provide a completely saturated cover.


One common mistake DIY painters make when painting over dark colors? Spreading the paint too thin! Always add more paint than you think; you’ll want heavy coverage when rolling. The number of coats needed will depend on how significant the transition is between shades, what color you’re covering up, and what color you’re putting on.

Heavy coverage is always preferable to thin coverage and will mean fewer coats overall. Although don’t lay it on too thick, or you’ll end up with blobs and drips.

When rolling the paint on the wall, roll in large, wide “M” or “W” shapes. When reloading the roller, make sure to roll it on the slanted part of the paint tray to remove some of the paint. This will help to avoid roller lines in the paint finish.

You should do the edges with every coat. We know this is time-intensive, but if you don’t stay consistent with your edging, you’ll end up with a noticeable border around the room that’s a touch darker than everywhere else.

Also, letting the paint dry fully in between coats should give you the best results. Depending on the air circulation in the room, this could mean waiting several hours from doing one coat to the next. In general, the more time you give each coat of paint to dry, the better.

Don’t expect perfection right away. When you paint over a dark color, you inevitably end up with the first coats of paint looking patchy and imperfect, even if you did your due diligence with primer.

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1 Comment

Bill Antonyan
Bill Antonyan
Nov 01, 2022

Very well written!!! Please do checkout our website!

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